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A Netherlands court on Tuesday rejected the government’s appeal against a 2015 ruling that ordered it to set a deeper emission reduction goal, a judgement that potentially establishes a global precedent in holding a state responsible for taking necessary steps to prevent dangerous climate change.
EU environment ministers on Tuesday were unable to agree on raising the bloc’s 2030 emission reduction goal this year, though 15 of the 28 called for an increase before the end of the decade.
Denmark will cancel 8 million EUAs next decade by applying a provision that allows a club of richer EU member states to help meet their non-ETS goals more cheaply, according to a report released Tuesday.
EU carbon prices fell by more than a euro amid declining energy prices and technical selling on Tuesday, continuing the previous session’s slide back from a two-week high.
The US Supreme Court on Tuesday refused to grant a request to reconsider an Obama-era ban on potent heat-trapping gases, aligning with the Trump administration’s position on throwing out the appeal.
California Carbon Offsets (CCOs) were held in Ontario-registered accounts when the government opted to cancel the province’s carbon market and freeze all trading, an Ontario government official confirmed on Tuesday.
The Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative (RGGI) will auction off 13.4 million allowances at the Dec. 5 auction, regulators announced Tuesday.
Climate policy featured as one of the contentious topics during California’s lone gubernatorial debate on Monday, as the leading candidate pledged to use increased measures to curb fossil fuel use in the state if elected next month.
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BITE-SIZED UPDATES FROM AROUND THE WORLD
Braking news – EU environment ministers late on Tuesday agreed to reduce CO2 emissions from new cars by 35% and from vans by 30% below 2021 levels by 2030 – targets that are slightly more ambitious than the European Commission’s original proposal. The final deal, brokered by current EU president Austria just before midnight in Brussels, includes a 15% reduction target for cars and vans in 2025. At least 17 member states had pushed for a 2030 target of at least 40%, but Germany and the four Visegrad countries (Poland, Hungary, Czechia, and Slovakia) fiercely lobbied for no more than a 30% cut, which was also what the Commission has proposed. The full EU Parliament last week backed 40% targets for both cars and vans, as well as a credit system to encourage electric vehicle sales. According to campaigners Transport & Environment, ministers also agreed that countries with low GDP will also receive an additional bonus for selling low- and zero-emission vehicles. “A controversial derogation of niche manufacturers making up to 300,000 cars was extended, notably benefiting Jaguar Land Rover,” T&E added. Trilogue negotiations between the three EU institutions will now begin to find common ground and finalise the regulations.
Clean slump – A slump in utilities’ renewable energy projects weighed on global clean energy investment in the third quarter of 2018, analysts at Bloomberg New Energy Finance said. Asset finance for utility-scale renewable energy projects fell 15% relative to the third quarter of 2017 to come in at $49.3 billion. Total global investment came in at $67.8 bln, down 6% year-on-year.
Mobil money – ExxonMobil, the world’s largest publicly-traded oil company, has committed $1 million over two years to the political advocacy group Americans for Carbon Dividends, who have pushed for a $40/tonne carbon fee. According to the Center for Responsible Politics, that amounts to just over 4% of Exxon’s roughly $12 million annual lobbying budget in recent years. According to Axios, this is the first time that Exxon has backed up its support of a carbon tax vocalised over the past several years with lobbying dollars.
Open post – US Ambassador to the UN Nikki Haley announced her resignation on Tuesday, but will stay on through the remainder of the year. Haley, the former Republican governor of South Carolina, assumed the post while President Trump announced last year that the US would leave the Paris Agreement, though Haley said at the time that “just because we pulled out of the Paris accord doesn’t mean we don’t believe in climate protection”. Trump said during an Oval Office appearance that he would announce Haley’s replacement in the next two to three weeks. (Business Insider, The Post and Courier)
Still untested – A Minnesota judge has ruled that prosecutors failed to meet their burden of proof that a group of activists had damaged a tar sands pipeline when they trespassed on private property to shut it down. The judge dismissed all charges against the defendants who were facing up to 10 years on felony counts. The ruling effectively short-circuited what many activists and legal scholars hoped would be a landmark trial and the first real test of the ‘necessity defense’. The defendants had planned to present evidence they trespassed to shut down an Enbridge pipeline carrying tar sands oil from Alberta because the pipeline represents a direct and immediate climate threat and their actions were their best option to confront the peril. The activists and their lawyers wanted to win acquittal, but they also wanted to put climate change on trial in an American courtroom. (Climate Liability News)
Full check – In Australia, Victoria state Planning Minister Richard Wynne on Tuesday announced a decision to demand a full Environmental Effects Statement (EES) from AGL before approving the company’s planned Crib Point natural gas plant. AGL has estimated the plant would emit 190,000 tCO2e per year, just below the 200k threshold for automatically triggering an EES. However, environmentalists have argued the plant would almost certainly emit more than that when pipeline leakage is counted. Crib Point is the latest in a long line of new gas plants in Australia pushing up the nation’s greenhouse gas emissions. But the AGL EES might count for nothing if neighbouring NSW approves all new coal mining projects in the pipeline, Fairfax reports. New and expanding mines in the state could produce over 2 billion tonnes of coal if approved, sending 5.4 billion tonnes of CO2e into the atmosphere when burnt. The state government’s Department of Planning this week backed the massive Bylong mine, from which South Korea-based KEPCO wants to dig up 120 million tonnes of coal.
Stand up and be accounted – The Ontario Standing Committee on General Government will meet on Oct. 15 to consider Bill 4, which would rescind the legislation underlying the province’s now-shuttered carbon market and accompanying GHG reduction targets and install a new, yet-to-be-determined climate policy. Although Premier Doug Ford’s PC government had attempted to move Bill 4 through the legislature this summer and early fall, campaigners Greenpeace Canada sued the province for cancelling the cap-and-trade programme without public consultation. In response, the government began a 30-day public comment period on the bill, which ends on Oct. 11.
Quebec allocation – More than 4.6 million V17 California Carbon Allowances shifted from jurisdictional accounts to compliance accounts in the linked WCI programme during the third quarter, according to state data released last week. Those allowances are likely Quebec’s remaining annual allocation given out in January and September. The volume is a slight reduction from the 4.8 mln allowances that shifted into compliance accounts in 2017, and it is on par with volume allocated during the same quarter in 2016.
Billion dollar baby – GE has struck a deal to offload about 20 energy investments valued at approximately $1 billion. The sale of the energy assets, details of which were not disclosed, includes investments in renewable energy, contracted gas-fired generation, and midstream energy infrastructure assets that were purchased by Apollo Global Management. The deal is expected to close in the fourth quarter of 2018. (Utility Dive)
The (green) house of mouse – The Walt Disney Company is just months away from generating enough renewable solar energy to fully power two of its four parks at the Walt Disney World Resort in central Florida. Before the end of 2018, Disney will flip the switch on a sprawling 50MW solar power facility composed of more than a half-million solar panels, just outside Disney’s Animal Kingdom. The move is aimed, in part, at helping Disney achieve its larger plan to reduce its net GHG emissions by 50% worldwide by 2020, compared to 2012. (New York Times)
Scoot to my Lou – Dock-free electric scooter company Lime announced its new “Lime Green” initiative on Tuesday, in which it is aiming for all its rides on electric scooters and bikes worldwide to be carbon neutral. As part of the initiative, Lime will partner with Vermont-based NativeEnergy to purchase carbon offsets and RECs, including investments in an Iowa solar project and buying power from the Capricorn wind farm in Texas. A subsequent phase of the initiative will involve purchasing clean energy directly from power companies, exploring the use of on-site power, and making its operations more efficient. (Axios)
And finally… Win, lose, or draw – The Trump White House issued no public response to Monday’s UN IPCC report, citing fact that it was focussing on its ceremonial swearing-in event for new Supreme Court Justice Brett Kavanaugh that evening. On Tuesday, when asked by reporters about the report, Trump expressed suspicion about it. “It was given to me. And I want to look at who drew it. You know, which group drew it. I can give you reports that are fabulous and I can give you reports that aren’t so good. But I will be looking at it, absolutely.”
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